'Archer' Review: "Smuggler's Blues"

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Archer’ season 5 adds a bit more ‘Vice’ in its latest episode “Smuggler's Blues,” as Archer, Cyril and Ray head to Columbia in search of a buyer for their cocaine, while Malory and Lana worry about their fate from back home.

Previous ‘Archer’ installment “Baby Shower” saw Archer attempting to secure Kenny Loggins for Lana's baby shower, while Krieger came up with a suspicious new means to sell the group's cocaine, so does “Smuggler's Blues” keep the changes rolling? Is ‘Archer’ season 5 headed right into the danger zone?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 5 episode 7, “Smuggler's Blues!”

Lana attempts to practice spoon-feeding her baby with Pam, before the duo are interrupted by Cheryl and Malory’s gripes about children. Malory notices several hundred pounds of cocaine missing, for which she initially blames Pam, though we learn that Archer, Ray and Cyril have actually taken the cocaine to Columbia in search of “La Madrina,” a cartel dealer who would likely buy most of their supply, if only they can find her.

Upon landing, the trio set out to a local tavern in search of intelligence on contacting La Madrina, as both Cyril and Ray realize that their current mission seems actually less morally ambiguous than their days at ISIS. Archer asks one of the bar patrons about La Madrina’s whereabouts, as the man suggests he can place a call to have a representative come meet them. Meanwhile, Krieger learns from social media that Ray and the others are in Columbia, informing a worried Malory of their intentions.

Hearing a truck pull up, Archer fakes sick and drags the two into the bathroom, having realized that they’ve been sold out and that the paramilitary has arrived. The three sneak out the bathroom window, as Cyril is tasked with removing the enemy truck’s distributor cap before they speed off. A short while later, the group’s truck overheats, as the paramilitary forces catch up, Cyril having taken the washer fluid cap by mistake.

Archer is surprised to find the paramilitary lowing their weapons, before turning around to see the reason why; La Madrina and her forces have arrived, the beautiful buxom woman inviting Archer and his friends to negotiate back at her compound. On the way there, Archer blocks a call from a worried Malory with his latest voicemail prank, an elaborate recording of he and Ray fighting with added sound effects.

Archer and La Madrina flirt heavily as she confirms the cocaine’s purity, and accepts a deal with the group, before she and Archer head upstairs. The following morning, a tired-out Archer is astonished to learn that La Madrina is in fact deep undercover police, and has the three taken away to be sent to prison. Archer laments only that he never got to meet the woman’s tiger, as Cyril points out that they’re likely to be killed in prison to protect La Madrina’s cover. Back in the states, Lana admits to actually worrying about the trio, as Malory tearfully asks her to retrieve her son from Columbia.

OUR REVIEW:

Well, if you hadn’t already heard, FX went ahead and guaranteed ‘Archer’ a sixth and seventh season to follow the current ‘Vice’ setting all the way through 2016 following last week’s gimmick-heavy Kenny Rogers installment. There hasn’t been altogether very much to complain about with the current season, despite its difficulty balancing more stay-at-home episodes with an actual sense of plot progression, as the humor remains on point between the cast’s usual terrific chemistry.

Somewhat less clear is if we’ll expect the ‘Vice’ plotline to wrap up by the end of the season, but in either case, “Smuggler’s Blues” felt like it had the most momentum yet, even if things once again ended with the sense that the team had dug even further into a hole. The action felt a bit short, rushing Ray, Cyril Archer from points A to B to C in Colombia, only to be handed over to police custody, but we’d expect the setup to work in favor of a more concentrated tale next week, especially given the New York side of matters seemed to serve so little function.

We’re more than halfway through the season now, to the point where we’d have expected a more centralized plot or villain to have emerged, but “La Madrina” seems primed to offer us a bit more serialization going forward, someone who doesn’t mind using her assets every bit as much as Sterling himself. It’d be a shame to think if ‘Archer: Vice’ never intended to revisit more spy-related characters like Barry or Katya, even if the season had been designed to move away from established patterns and characters.

In the interim at least, “Smuggler’s Blues” probably feels the most like home of all season, albeit suffering for its burden of advancing the plot forward. And yes, we should absolutely revisit “phrasing” back into rotation.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action? What was your favorite gag from “Smuggler's Blues?” Tell us if you’re on board for ‘Vice,’ and join us next week for all-new ‘Archer’ recap of “The Rules of Extraction” on FX!

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